Shipping giant adds ship-to-dock drone service

By Luke Geiver | May 24, 2017

A Norwegian shipping giant has turned to small unmanned aircraft systems to reduce costs and streamline operations during anchorage. Wilhelmsen Holding announced this month that it intends to deploy sUAVs in May and June to deliever small cargo to and from large shipping vessels that are docked.

“Whether it is deliveries of critical documents or vital medical supplies, tank inspections, or monitoring cargo and stockpile levels, we believe semi-autonomous drone flights can support and further enhance what our ships agency team can offer our customers,” according to Marius Johansen, vice president of business solutions and marketing.

Wilhelmsen hopes to reduce—or eliminate—the need for small launch boats typically used to bring supplies to a large ship. Drones could also help reduce the time it takes for packages to reach the ship or the dock. Launch vessels can cost an average of $1,500 per deployment. A drone delivery system, however, could only cost $150 per deployment, the company believes.

Later this year, Wilhelmsen will launch a working pilot project at a busy port off the coast of Norway.